Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey couldn't be more thrilled over being named to the Pro Bowl for an eighth straight season.
He just wishes he could bring along a little company.
It's all about paying dues. He thinks receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive end Elvis Dumervil are now paid in full, and could be Pro Bowlers next season.
Marshall has 86 catches and 1,136 yards receiving this season and Dumervil is fourth in the AFC with 11 sacks.
"Even if Elvis had 15 sacks, it's still hard to get in there," Bailey said. "He's making a name for himself, but people will start appreciating what you're doing the more you do it. The more years you have under your belt like that, the more people appreciate it."
Bailey made the Pro Bowl roster as a starter despite having just three interceptions this season. He had 10 last season.
"My numbers are going to be good some years and not good some years," Bailey said. "It's just the way people attack me and the plays I make. Around the league, when people look at the big picture, I get my job done."
He said the secret to making eight straight Pro Bowls boils down to consistency.
"Working hard, never getting complacent," Bailey said. "I'm never satisfied with where I finish the season."
As for going to Hawaii every February to play the game he loves, he'll never tire of that.
"That's one thing I'm never not appreciative of," Bailey said. "It's definitely an honor every year."
HELPING HAND: Fullback Cecil Sapp simply wanted to honor his good friend. The fact he gets to spread a little holiday cheer just makes it all the better.
Sapp, receiver Brandon Marshall and the Broncos have sponsored six families in the area to grant them holiday wishes. The families were selected by Judy Nash, the wife of former Denver running back Damien Nash, who died from cardiac arrhythmia following a charity basketball game in St. Louis last spring.
"I wanted to do this in Damien's honor," Sapp said. "He was a good friend."
The families were selected from the Broncos Boys and Girls Club. Marshall and Sapp will deliver the gifts Saturday.
"Damien was always very helpful," Sapp said. "That's why we want to help."
SAFETY CONCERN: Broncos coach Mike Shanahan thinks safety John Lynch will be back for a 16th season.
His body may have a different opinion. It's been an injury-plagued season for Lynch, who's missed three games with groin and neck injuries.
"I think John played very well this season," Shanahan said. "I expect John to come back and play, unless he tells me something different."
MAKESHIFT FIELD: Paul Ernster didn't need a football field to practice punting as he waited for a team to pick him up.
Ernster, who was signed by the Broncos on Tuesday, simply headed over to a park in Denver, set up cones at certain distances and kicked away. He would boot six footballs, walk to the other end, gather them up and boot them again.
"If you saw me out there, you would just think I was some little kid," Ernster said. "But it was fun. It gave me time to do it on my own and kind of figure out things for myself."
When he heard about Todd Sauerbrun's release, he was hoping the Broncos would call. They did and now he's enjoying his second stint with the Broncos.
"I was really shocked. I never thought anything like this would happen," said Ernster, who was a seventh-round pick by Denver in 2005. "Obviously, in light of Todd's situation, it wasn't impossible. I just didn't think it was likely."
Sauerbrun beat out Ernster for the starting job in training camp, leading to Ernster's release.
"I was a little confused, but I understood," said Ernster, who averaged 41.7 yards a punt for the Broncos in 2006. "He's a veteran; he's been around the league a lot. I wasn't mad. It gave me more motivation."
Ernster punted in the season opener with the Cleveland Browns before being waived. He had numerous tryouts throughout the season, and would always see the same faces competing for the job. He got to know punters like Josh Miller and Dirk Johnson by visiting with them at tryouts.
"It should be a reality show," Ernster said of the tryouts. "It was actually pretty funny. It was kind of like a drama. Every single week we'd see each other. It was just cool to get to know those guys. I actually enjoyed it a lot."
FIRST DOWNS: The Broncos will play San Diego on a Monday night for just the second time in team history. Denver lost 17-7 at San Diego on Dec. 17, 1979. ... Denver needs two straight wins to post at least a .500 record for an eighth straight year. ... Of WR Brandon Stokley's 40 catches this season, 34 have resulted in first downs. He leads the NFL in first-down percentage. ... LB Ian Gold (knee) and TE Daniel Graham (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday. Stokley (knee) only participated on a limited basis.
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